There have been a number of critics who have sounded off about Houston Rockets star James Harden and his impressive recent scoring streak. The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player has ripped off 31 straight games with 30 or more points, and some people don’t seem to like Harden’s shoot-first approach. And apparently, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t all that fond of those critics.
As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon revealed prior to Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, D’Antoni went off about the criticism. He began by stating that he doesn’t listen to it “because it’s absurd” while proceeded to give massive praise to Harden. During the long response from Houston’s coach, he also says “the alternative was to lose, and he [Harden] wasn’t doing that.”
D’Antoni apparently decided that there was no better time than now to put all his chips on the table and go all-in on defending his star. It’s hard to argue with the evaluation he provided also, especially considering the number of injuries that plagued the Rockets through more than the first half of the year.
James Harden’s Unreal Recent Numbers
While Harden is averaging 36.6 points, 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game this season, his most recent three months have been on another level. While the Rockets have spent time playing without Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Clint Capela, Harden has made sure the team stayed above water with consistently exceptional performances.
Through the month of December, the 29-year-old averaged 36.4 points and proceeded to push that average up to an unbelievable 43.6 points in January. Over that 14-game stretch, Harden poured in 40-plus points eight times while hitting the 50-point mark on three occasions and even scoring 61 against the New York Knicks.
Rockets’ Success During James Harden’s Streak
Harden’s 31-straight games with 30 or more points is a feat that deserves high praise, but the fact it’s resulted in consistent wins makes it even more impressive. Over that stretch, the Rockets have gone 21-10 entering Thursday’s game against the Lakers. This has been crucial to Houston’s playoff outlook, as they currently sit with a 33-24 record which is good for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
The Rockets have plenty of work left to do, as they’re four games back of the No. 3 seed, but just eight games separate them from the No. 13 seed New Orleans Pelicans. Beyond that, there are five teams within five games of each other battling for the final playoff spot just behind Houston.